Column: Jeff Long: Jesus and #MeToo (8/11/18)

Column: Jeff Long: Jesus and #MeToo (8/11/18)

By Jeff Long

It was an unusual thing for a first-century C.E. Jewish man not to own land nor to have any descendants. Success in life in early Palestine was measured largely by those two mileposts. When it comes to Jesus of Nazareth, however, this is apparently the case. Landless, childless, and largely penniless. Ergo, before he opened his mouth to teach, before performing any of his miracles or healings, Jesus would have already been regarded as a bit of oddity by the standards of the time.

His attitude toward women equally made him stand out. By the laws of primogeniture, women could not inherit land nor wealth of any tangible kind in Jesus’ era. Gratefully, we live in a time when those nonsensical standards have been all but eliminated. A vestige survives, however, in a way that most people find innocuous. I do not. To wit: in so many weddings, you will hear these words: “Who gives this woman to this man?” I have officiated weddings since 1991 and have steadfastly refused to ask that question. The question harkens back to a time in which women were considered property, to be handed off from father to husband, along with a dowry. Women could not be expected to support themselves financially, or so it was believed. In my weddings, more than 200 at last count, I ask a different question: “Who presents this woman in marriage?” Dad still gets to give his daughter away but in a fashion that puts aside a bit of historical claptrap.

In a household in which the lion’s share of our family’s income is now earned by the woman, I’m glad to put the lie to all of that thinking.

It is sometimes argued that Jesus was gender-conventional in his attitudes about men and women. After all, it is posited, he didn’t call any women as his disciples. Nonsense. The writers of the New Testament gospels, all men, didn’t designate women as such, but let it be known, Jesus had women disciples. Mary Magdalene was just as much a Christ-follower as Peter, James, and John — the inner…

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